Girolamo Genga - Encyclopedia

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GIROLAMO GENGA (c. 1476-1551), Italian painter and architect, was born in Urbino about 1476. At the age of ten he was apprenticed to the woollen trade, but showed so much inclination for drawing that he was sent to study under an obscure painter, and at thirteen under Luca Signorelli, with whom he remained a considerable while, frequently painting the accessories of his pictures. He was afterwards for three years with Pietro Perugino, in company with Raphael. He next worked in Florence and Siena, along with Timoteo della Vite; and in the latter city he painted various compositions for Pandolfo Petrucci, the leading local statesman. Returning to Urbino, he was employed by Duke Guidobaldo in the decorations of his palace, and showed extraordinary aptitude for theatrical adornments. Thence he went to Rome; and in the church of S. Caterina da Siena, in that capital, is one of his most distinguished works, "The Resurrection," remarkable both for design and for colouring. He studied the Roman antiquities with zeal, and measured a number of edifices; this practice, combining with his previous mastery of perspective, qualified him to shine as an architect. Francesco Maria della Rovere, the reigning duke of Urbino, recalled Genga, and commissioned him to execute works in connexion with his marriage-festivities. This prince being soon afterwards expelled by Pope Leo X., Genga followed him to Mantua, whence he went for a time to Pesaro. The duke of Urbino was eventually restored to his dominions; he took Genga with him, and appointed him the ducal architect. As he neared the close of his career, Genga retired to a house in the vicinity of Urbino, continuing still to produce designs in pencil; one, of the "Conversion of St Paul," was particularly admired. Here he died on the 11th of July 1551. Genga was a sculptor and musician as well as painter and architect. He was jovial, an excellent talker, and kindly to his friends. His principal pupil was Francesco Menzocchi. His own son Bartolommeo (1518-1558) became an architect of celebrity. In Genga's paintings there is a great deal of freedom, and a certain peculiarity of character consonant with his versatile, lively and social temperament. One of his leading works is in the church of S. Agostino in Cesena - a triptych in oil-colours, representing the "Annunciation," "God the Father in Glory," and the "Madonna and Child." Among his architectural labours are the church of San Giovanni Battista in Pesaro; the bishop's palace at Sinigaglia; the façade of the cathedral of Mantua, ranking high among the productions of the 16th century; and a new palace for the duke of Urbino, built on the Monte Imperiale. He was also concerned in the fortifications of Pesaro.

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